TYLER Buchan, the Aberdeenshire captain, had words of praise for one centurion and sympathy for another after his side’s eight-wicket win over Forfarshire at Mannofield.
Buchan’s league leaders had been put on the back foot when Craig Wallace, his Highlanders’ team-mate, stroked 122 as the Forthill men batted first on a flat track.
Wallace, who stroked nine boundaries and a six, was well supported by a resolute 58 from Elliot McCandless before a hard-hitting 31 from Aron Lilly hoisted the visitors’ tally to 239-3.
Without both regular openers, Chris Venske and Callum Howard who are injured, the Dons were forced to launch their chase with a makeshift batting line-up.
However, despite the early loss of Grant Jamieson, Shay Nanthakumaran rose to his new challenge in spectacular style.
With a previous highest score of 40 for the first eleven, expectations could not have been particularly high that Nanthakumaran would emerge as the hero – but he carried his bat for exactly 100no as the Mannofield men won with two overs to spare.
Nanthakumaran provided the backbone his side needed, facing 143 balls and stroking eight boundaries and one six.
His solid occupancy of the crease allowed Harsha Cooray to adopt a more expansive approach, the Sri Lankan smashing 82no from only 74 deliveries with eight boundaries and two maximums.
Buchan said: “It was a very impressive run chase from the lads.
“Shay only came into the team on Friday as Calum Howard pulled out with a back strain so to come in and bat like he did was incredible.
“His highest first-team score was 40 before yesterday, so to get an unbeaten hundred was superb. That’s the most fluent I’ve seen him bat, but it’s no surprise as he has been the leading run scorer in the second eleven for the past few years.”
However, Buchan had words of consolation for a Forfarshire side who are second bottom.
“Craig batted very well for 122 and Forfarshire have been hit hard by injuries just like ourselves. But I think if they bat like they did today they’ll win more games than they lose.”
While the Dons continue to lead the way, champions Arbroath remain hard on their heels after an impressive six-wicket win at Carlton.
Calvin Burnett and Craig Ramsay each got three wickets as the capital side were restricted to 167 despite Hamish Gardiner’s 63.
Arbroath lost a couple of early wickets but the day’s third centurion Brendan Ford stroked a superb 114no to secure the win for a side who appear to be hitting form at the right time.
“Consistency has been a problem for us this season,” noted Marc Petrie, the captain.”
Elsewhere Falkland showed their strength in depth to complete the double over Stoneywood-Dyce. Grange and Heriot’s occupy third and fourth places after claiming D/L wins from their capital derbies at Watsonians and SMRH respectively.
AN AMAZING capitulation by Clydesdale, an explosive return to action of former Saltires star Ross Lyons and a first win for West of Scotland made for a remarkable day in the Western Union on Saturday.
And, at the end of it all, the biggest winners may well have been leaders Ayr whose match at Drumpellier was rained-off.
To Titwood first, where a rather laboured Uddingston innings eventually ended on a modest 143-9, Gowtham Rai top-scoring with 39 while Mo Ali was again Clydesdale’s standout bowler with three victims. It looked like a breeze for Dale when openers Con de Lange and Mo Awais plundered 58 runs from the first seven overs. However, Uddingston’s New Zealand professional Matt McEwan applied the brakes with a blistering spell that reduced the hosts to 81-5.
The match swung back in Clydesdale’s favour when Sam Page and Lyle Hill added 51 for the sixth wicket.
At 132-5, the game was in the bag but a second spectacular collapse saw the last five wickets fall for just seven runs as Uddingston prevailed by four.
McEwan claimed the bowling honours with 6-21 but Ricky Bawa’s three scalps included the crucial ones of Page and Hill.
Bryan Clarke, the winning captain, declared: “We showed the sort of fight that won us the league last year. It was a great effort from the lads and Clydesdale crumbled as the pressure grew.
“Matt bowled as well as he has for us and really showed his class, but Ricky’s second spell was a special effort.
“He’d taken a bit of stick from Con de Lange at the start so to come back and claim 3-3 from three overs was fantastic.
“Guys take Ricky for granted but he’s still as clever a bowler as there is in the league.”
The defeat dents Dale’s title hopes and there was a similar setback for Renfrew who were on the receiving end of a heavy defeat at East Kilbride where Lyons stole the show.
THE match report on the Holy Cross website put it as succinctly as possible – “We got gubbed!”
There was not much else to be said from the perspective of the vanquished Edinburgh side but there was plenty upon which to proudly reflect for Glenrothes in the wake of their most impressive display yet in what is surely a charge to the ESCA Championship title.
The Fifers amassed 350-7 and then routed their visitors for just 44 to record victory by 306 runs, an outcome which will have statisticians searching to see if there has ever been a bigger margin at this level.
Graeme Beghin, the prolific South African professional, was the executioner-in-chief with the bat, hammering a superb, boundary-laden 181 – enough to overshadow the contribution of youngster Ben Wilkinson who contributed 65.
Charlie Ellis claimed four wickets as the Holy Cross bowlers stuck manfully to their task in the face of the onslaught.
However, the visitors’ pain was to intensify as they were shot out for just 44 in less than 23 overs, Kenny Crichton adding to his tally of victims for the season with 6-25. Freuchie’s Mo Akbar also claimed a six-wicket haul as the villagers stayed in contention with a 112 run-win over West Lothian.
Former Scotland all-rounder Scott Gourlay had earlier top-scored with 66 in Freuchie’s 222.
Corstorphine remain just ahead of Freuchie in second place after former Saltires coach Pete Steindl hit an unbeaten half-century in a 12-run win over Penicuik.
South African Darryl Hendricks hit a superb 125 in Edinburgh South’s rain-affected clash with Grange 2.
Simon Taylor and Giles Holmes responded with half-centuries for Grange before the calculators came out to declare the match tied.
Meanwhile, Murrayfield DAFS had too much firepower for Carlton 2, winning by 140 runs.